All In The Family: Custodial Rights of Grandparents

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All In The Family: Custodial Rights of Grandparents

In Pennsylvania, laws regarding a grandparent’s ability to obtain custodial time changed in 2011.  Under those changes, grandparents may be able to seek primary physical custody or partial physical custody of their grandchild.

In order to have what is termed “standing” for primary physical custody of a grandchild, a grandparent who does not stand in loco parentis of the child must meet the following conditions;

  1. The grandparent’s relationship with the child began either with the consent of a parent of the child or under a court order;
  2. The grandparent assumes or is willing to assume responsibility for the child; and
  3. One of the following conditions is met:
    1. the child has been determined to be a dependent child;
    2. the child is substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse, or incapacity; or
    3. the child has, for a period of at least 12 consecutive months, resided with the grandparent, excluding brief temporary absences of the child from the home, and is removed from the home by the parents, in which case the action must be filed within six (6) months after the removal of the child from the home.

In many cases, the above requirements are difficult for a grandparent to meet.  This, however, does not preclude a grandparent from having any custodial time.  Grandparents who do not meet the requirements for standing for primary physical custody may meet the requirements for standing for partial physical custody.

Grandparents may be able to obtain partial physical custody, which is generally considered less than 50% of the custodial time, in the following situations:

  1. Where a parent of a child is deceased.  A parent or grandparent of the deceased parent may have standing;
  2. Where the parents of a child had been separated for a period of at least six (6) months or have commenced and continued a proceeding to dissolve their marriage; or
  3. When a child has, for a period of at least twelve (12) consecutive months, resided with the grandparent or great-grandparent, excluding brief temporary absences of the child from the home, and is removed from the home by the parents, in which case an action must be filed within six (6) months after the removal of the child from the home.

For many grandparents seeking custody, custodial rights are commonly obtained under the second situation, above.

If you are placed in a situation as a grandparent where you are interested in seeking custodial rights, contact one of the experienced custody attorneys at Buzgon Davis Law Offices for more information on how to proceed under the grandparent statutes.

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